Posts Tagged social media
Doing marketing and PR within higher education is among the most complicated jobs imaginable. I tell my former colleagues working in consumer or corporate positions that it’s a lot like 10,000 of your customers living together in your company’s building and their parents live around the corner.
The crisis and contingency planning in university PR alone eats up the best of us. The worst-case scenario in my former corporate PR jobs was that the stock price drops a few points. The worst-case scenario in university PR is enacting the active shooter plan and figuring out who calls the FBI, when to reach out to parents and staying behind to deal with CNN while everyone else is evacuated. I used to think the only difference was the stock options.
The recruitment marketing side of things aren’t that dire, but it’s no less daunting from a channel and content perspective. Your target audience is a teenager living a busy high school life while planning an adult life and career. Their influencers are parents, friends, guidance counselors and aspirational people (real and fictional) in the world at large – experienced through countless media platforms. Factor in the 12 to 18 month sales cycle during the prospect’s most formative years and you have a job wrapped in a riddle.
Thirty years ago when I was 16, universities had to coordinate two primary media: print and broadcast. Within those there was owned (school collateral sent snail mail), earned (media placements) and probably TV advertising. (If you were lucky your school had a Division 1 team and got on national TV once in a while.)
Today, the recruitment marketing funnel looks like this with the many touch points and channels across the top.
Assuming you can master each of these channels, getting your content to look and feel the same in a print catalog, your web site, paid promotion on Facebook, search on Google, email marketing and signage during an event is no small feat. Success is a function of organizational design and having a centralized department directing all of these channels and the content that flows through them.
The fly in the ointment for many universities is mobile – the most important medium of this generation of high school students. According to Chegg 81% of todays teens have visited a college web site for admissions information using a mobile device. Unfortunately, according to Noel Levitz, only about half of colleges have a responsive web site.
Imagine if only half of all college admissions buildings had a door.
Clearly, there are huge gaps and inefficiencies in this marketing model and it shines some light on why 4-year private colleges spend a median of $2,433 to recruit a single student – that’s $4.8 million for a freshman class of 2,000 students. This fall, 18.1 million new undergraduate students arrived on campuses in the United States.
Do the math.
Integrating all of these channels with an emphasis on mobile can drive these costs down, streamline processes and avoid the dreaded 15th email to the same prospect from three different departments at the same university. But getting your story coordinated internally is just part of it. Mapping it to the new careers-first logic being applied to college research is the last and most important mile.
Not too long ago we went to college to figure it all out. You marketed a school as a place to be because it was enough to get there to find yourself and come out as a “college man.” Now, students go through college. It is a means to a vocational end for the affluent, middle class and lower class. The wealthy want to stay that way and the rest of us want a bigger piece of the action so the search begins with a career path and ends with the educational solution that gets them there.
Leaning into this vocational positioning for most universities is hugely problematic. It goes against generations of selling the self-realization destination and social status that comes with college. And, more practically, staying on the high ground above the University of Phoenix. The good news is all of these new channels for reaching prospective students (mobile, search marketing, social media) are perfect platforms to engage in the discussion about career outcomes. It just takes planning and execution against a single strategy.
Channel coordination and consistent positioning is something every business and organization faces as it grows. Universities should know this better than anyone. Because many of their schools actually teach those lessons of integrated marketing communications within their degree programs every day.
No university in the world grants degrees in silo-based marketing, but plenty of them practice it.
– Jose Mallabo
Sorry…for the all-too-obvious SEO- and Huffington Post-inspired headline. This post has little to do with getting more followers on Twitter. Could be worse. I could’ve named it: “Is Twitter more important than the Wall Street Journal?”
Social media, especially Twitter, is a global 24/7 session of Double Dutch. Only it’s with 500 million+ jump ropes none of which will slow down to let you in even though you just laced on a shiny new pair of Nikes and are carrying a swanky-fun handle.
Like Double Dutch you don’t run into the fray with your mouth open unless you want a 20-gauge rubber rope behind your bicuspids. You wait. You find the rhythm of the conversation then jump in prepared to be part of it.
- Before you start tweeting: Shut up and listen!
- Never build a company on the Twitter API. (Another story for different day.)
By listening for a bit you’ll get a sense what the language and conversation is on Twitter and you’ll see what gets the most interest in whatever topic you’re keen on. No matter what subject, I think you’ll see that people who have a constructive point of view get the most engagement on Twitter. So when you do want to start opening your mouth, think back to the way back days of TechCrunch (circa when we thought Friendster was the big ticket). Michael Arrington made that blog more influential than mainstream papers by having a point of view.
So, if you get stuck on finding a voice for your next tweet or post, ask yourself – what would @arrington do?
Then when you’re jusssst about to hit send on your 11th tweet stop, drop and roll. Take a look at the first ten tweets and count how many of those are about: A) broad topic of conversation that we all care about, B) dialogue with other tweeps, and C) how wonderful you are.
If more than two are focused on category C, put the mirror down and remember this guiding principle:
As @louhoffman reminded me last week no one you first meet at a cocktail party wants to hear a commercial about how wonderful you are. They want to engage with you about new and common areas of interest. And, they’ll stay for a full cocktail or maybe two if you’re a smidge entertaining.
New rule is the old rule: 50/30/20
Spend 50% of your time talking about broader subjects on Twitter. Then, 30% actively engaged with other people. And, just a wee 20% woofing about your parents’ progeny.
I lied. I’m giving you some tips. The last one is: Who you are on Twitter is somewhat reflective of who you are following. Follow wisely.
If you want to be seen and served up in the Twitter “Who to follow” engine as a global leader in M&A but are following 1,500 skateboarders . . . then odds are Twitter thinks you’re more like Tony Hawke than Larry Ellison.
– Jose Mallabo
13. You know the up and down connectivity speeds to your house
12. You can rattle off your IP address faster than your SSN
11. Your focus and visualization skills are good enough to make beef jerky taste like steak
10. You keep your house at 68 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the server comfortable
9. Before you go to bed you move the laundry to make room for your iPad and laptop
8. When you travel, the first question in the morning is to your co-founder sleeping across the room: “Dude, what’s the Wi-Fi login?”
7. When you travel, you stay in the kind of hotel where your car is parked right outside the door
6. You know the current time in Delhi and today’s date but have no clue what day of the week it is
5. You think Tom’s Shoes is a great authentic story of doing social good but wouldn’t wear them
4. You know the exact cost of your healthcare coverage and what’s included – or read this and realized you don’t have any
3. Your mom sends you links to some site called Monster.com
2. You miss @arrington
Number 1 sign you might be an Internet entrepreneur: All of the above is pretty much how you planned it except Arrington leaving TechCrunch. Still miffed about that one.
Everyone wants to be on the winning team. It just takes longer for some people to see the winning.
I remember walking my first Bay to Breakers race about a decade ago. I had a very broken arm and lugged around a cast that ran from my fist to my armpit. An hour into the 7 mile race someone with a bullhorn was yelling to the masses: “The Kenyans have already won. Go home!” I laughed and limped along with the thousands of others — appreciative of the update.
Social media isn’t too different. The early adopters have been claiming victory over traditional marketing channels since Facebook and Twitter were mere puppies. Search, email and general multi-media marketing/advertising might have a few things to say about that. But if you just look at the growth of Facebook and Twitter memberships over the past year — they’re signing up more people now than they were two or three years ago — you can start to see the not-so-early-adopters getting on the bandwagon.
And that’s OK. We all can’t be died-in-the-wool Yankees, Patriots, Red Sox or Phillies fans. Someone has to get on the bus last. So grab your licensed apparel and get on the social media express. But to the newcomers to social, I’d caution you from drinking solely from the awareness pitcher. Check that box and skip ahead to finding out how social media can drive lead generation and business development — because that’s the Kool Aid pitcher the cool kids are filling up from.
It can look a little like this one that I know was used in generating ~$200 million on software/solutions business leads for an enterprise facing company with a big blue logo.
Not as sexy as a Facebook page with videos of the trendy people at your company doing fun things in skinny jeans. But it works. And it will take this kind of coordinated approach to driving business for social media to run with the Kenyans.
I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a post about research and measurement in PR for some time. Namely, I really want to ask why PR hasn’t done a better job making this core to the function when there are scads of resources on the subject. Frankly, I’m not the expert on this subject as I’ve spent more of my career creating content than measuring how it impacts the audiences its intended for. Despite having an advanced degree in this area, I’m guilty as charged. Instead I reached out to my former colleague — Forrest W. Anderson who is not just a measurement expert but one of the sharpest communications strategists I’ve been around in my career.
Below is an un-edited Q&A I had with him this week. My questions. His answers. My parenthetical interjections.
Q: What is the single most important thing people need to remember when looking to measure the impact of communications programs?
A: The single most important thing people need to remember when looking to measure the impact of a communications program is their definition of impact, which should come from the initial, measurable objectives of the program. If you’re trying to change behavior (increase sales, reduce employee turnover, etc.) you should try to measure that change in behavior. If you’re trying to change awareness and/or attitudes, you should measure changes in awareness and/or attitudes. Most likely you would do this with a pre- and post-program survey. If you’re trying to increase media coverage, then you might measure clips. If you’re trying to increase positive media coverage, then you need not only to count clips but assess the tone of the content in those clips.
Q: What is the most common mistake you see companies making in buying measurement and research?
A: To me, the most common mistake I see companies make when they do invest in measurement and research is they focus more on evaluation (or measurement) and less on the research they should do to plan the program. The first step in any program should be to articulate a measurable objective. The next step should be to do research on the target audiences and the business environment so you know what kinds of messages and concepts will appeal to the target audience, which media reach the target audience and what’s going on in the world that might affect the way your target audience will react to your intended messages. The evaluation piece is fairly straightforward, if you’ve created a solid measurable objective for the program.
The measurable objective is a big stumbling point. Without one, you cannot evaluate. This is why so many companies that invest in media evaluation systems that use online data bases are disappointed after a year of using the service. Neither the client organization nor the evaluation system vendor thinks out what the measurable objectives should be for any given program. It frequently turns out, then, that there is a mismatch between what the tool measures and what the organization wants to achieve.
Q: Communications research has been around a long time, why haven’t PR people done a better job making it core to their programs and the industry?
A: I think there are a number of reasons.
- In the past it has been expensive relative to the investment in the program, so there was a question regarding whether you should spend the money trying to get more results or measuring what you achieved. The online systems have made clip analysis less expensive than in the past, and we can also do surveys online for much less than in the past.
- Some communications professionals are afraid of what they will find out if they measure. An agency, for example, might not want its client to learn that a program had not achieved the goals the client requested or the agency promised. This is a very unprofessional point of view because there is no way anyone can improve as a professional if they do not measure the effectiveness of what they do, learn from it and try to do better. The same situation exists for some internal communications departments, with organizational executives taking the client role and the communications departments acting like agencies. Again this is too bad. There is a fair amount of anecdotal and some scholarly evidence that communications departments that do evaluate are more highly thought of by the CEOs of their companies than are those that do not evaluate.
- Last, but certainly not least, I believe many people go into public relations to avoid having to deal with numbers and numerical analysis.
(So true. I’ve lost count how many PR people have said to me “I’m not good with numbers.” Cop out. Reading cross tabs isn’t that hard. And who hasn’t had a client that was BS-ing his boss about results?)
Q: CEO’s often just want to pay for clippings and see their names in headlines, how do you get past this?
A: If a CEO is that shallow, you’re going to have a number of operational problems in the organization that probably will outweigh communications issues. These will only be the tip of the ice berg. That said, the best way I know to influence CEOs is with data. If a senior communications person believes the organization should be doing something, he or she should look for data that supports their point of view and present it to the CEO. For example, if our communications executive (CE) believes the main competitor is winning partly because of the good media coverage it is getting vs. the poor media coverage the CE’s company is getting, a quantitative report demonstrating this would be more likely to sway the CEO than just saying “I think we should do this.”
I once did a $200,000 communications audit for the U.S. subsidiary of a European owned company. The whole purpose of the audit was to demonstrate to the European owner that the U.S. subsidiary needed to invest in public relations. The study made the case and HQ supported a major increase in PR funding.
Q: Is social media helping or hurting research and measurement in communications?
A: I would say social media is confusing research and measurement in communications. What it is helping is dialog. In the past, there were very few direct communications channels open between an organization and its stakeholders, so market research gave management insight into who comprised a stakeholder group, what they cared about, what they thought, etc. However, with social media, organizations can actually communicate directly with stakeholders, assuming stakeholders wish to communicate with the organization. This is great!
The danger comes when an organization begins to believe that a handful of active users of social media users represent the entire stakeholder group. There can be a big difference between what a few vocal individuals think and what most the population thinks. So, I believe social media is a wonderful way to get some insight into stakeholder groups, but I also think we need to be very careful about extrapolating that insight to larger populations. I do not believe social media is a replacement for research.
(I agree with that. And think the hype and sex appeal of social has done a lot to distract companies from focusing on the basics — like research and measurement. People are off building Facebook pages when they haven’t even studied their core audiences to see how they interact with existing PR content and programs.)
Q: Is agenda setting theory still valid?
A: Unless I misunderstand your question, the agenda setting theory is based on the idea that the media sets the news agenda by choosing which topics to cover. Thus the news media exerts great influence over not only the topics its audience thinks about but also how the audience thinks about those topics. I’m not sure I ever completely bought into this theory, because I believe good journalists tried to choose topics that were of interest to their audiences and did some research with their audiences to determine what these topics were. So, the influencers were influenced by those they influenced.
Whether this last bit was true in the past or not, it is certainly true now. Anyone with access to the Internet can publish now, and very many do. Tools such as Twitter’s “Trending” will tell you which topics (or key words) are being discussed the most at any given time, and journalists can and do use those kinds of tools to choose the topics they cover. I would say the influenced are influencing the influencers more than ever before. However, this is just a theory. I don’t have data on this.
Q: If you could build a strategic communications program for Facebook, what would it look like?
A: This sounds like what should be a paying gig.
I told you he was sharp. It really should be a paying gig.
Facebook, Forrest W. Anderson, IABC, Institute for Public Relations, Jose Mallabo, measurement, media, PR strategy, public relations, research, San Diego State University, social media, The Excellence Study
“Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.”
Poorly acted and directed that line would have been as cheesy as a bag of Doritos. Instead, it was powerful and real. And “American Beauty” went on to win five Academy Awards – including best picture. And, it grossed more than $350 million worldwide.
It touched a lot of people for a host of reasons, but I’d argue it was an artistic and financial success because it had the balls to not just delicately slide a truth into a dim light – it shoved it in our mouths and forced us to bite down and swallow on the fact that life can be beautiful and truly suck sometimes.
I’m not Roger Ebert, but that line didn’t just strum a chord on the human condition, it shredded the chord and offered an alternative to the trite idea of “chords on the human condition.” So much of that film worked to invade that private space we reserve for moments of unbridled joy. The uncontainable smile on your 10-year-old son’s face as he rounds first and realizes oh my God, that was a home run. It’s the same space we keep for moments of utter tragedy and loss. It’s where I leave the pain of my cousin dying last year and putting down a family pet.
No one is welcome there without an invitation.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to manage that gate because life happens. It’s just a matter of seeing it for what it is and chewing with the appropriate amount of pressure.
As I sit in my ergonomically correct Aeron chair, the span and depth of devastation in Japan is unfathomable and overwhelming. There’s no beauty in it, but I can’t stop looking at the footage. On Twitter and TV I’m trying to distract myself with other things – but can’t stop thinking how stupid all the Tweets are about the iPad 2 and how silly the commentary is on ESPN about the Miami Heat crying in the locker room.
Meanwhile, a potential nuclear meltdown in Fukushima adds yet another threat.
Take one minute and divert three mouse clicks away from that PowerPoint your client is going to re-write anyway to find a way to help people who could use it. Prayers and candles are one thing, but aid and relief has a monetary price. An easy place to start is here on PayPal’s donation site.
Maybe someday soon, people in Japan can stop worrying about where to get water or how far to stay away from the nuclear power plant and get back to the joyful inanity of watching videos of their kids hitting home runs on their iPads.
– Jose Mallabo
Update: April 12, 2011
Since first posting this I’ve been scrolling around the Web for examples of good uses of social media for social good. Namely because someone asserted to me that you can’t measure the benefits of social media at this point. I think it’s all based on what you set out to do at the beginning — just like any communications program, social or otherwise. I ran across Alyssa Milano’s Twitter feed. She’s incredibly active on Twitter. Which led me to her blog then to this site where she talks about the work she did to raise $92K on her 37th birthday for Charity: Water. What a good use of celebrity and social media.
I’ve lived through a couple of bubbles in my time – dot.com and housing come to mind, anyone? And something tells me the longer I’m around the more I’m going to have to live through.
Is social media another one of them? Maybe. Is a market cap of $80 billion for Facebook rational? Alan Greenspan must be trying his damnedest to make those old thumbs Tweet #social-exuberance.
It strikes me that my framed Pets.com certificates and my wall have more than a nail in common – both were worth a hell of a lot more when I bought them (yeah, that was a stretch, thanks for sticking with me on that one). So now that I’ve said it, let me compare the stock market bubble to the housing market bubble to see what these bubbles might have in common.
There are basically three ways to value a stock, and they are pretty much the same as how the real estate market valued my wall.
- Price per square foot (adjusted for how nice the stuff in my square footage is)
- How much an identical house in my neighborhood sold for
- Make shit up
- Discounted cash flows (predictions of how much money a company will make in future years, adjusted for how fast they will grow and how long they might last)
- What comparable “peer” companies are trading at (adjusted for cash, debt (including options), assets and risks)
- Make shit up
Both Facebook and Amazon have market caps of around $80 billion ($82.9 billion secondary market estimate for Facebook on 1/28, $76.8 billion actual market cap for Amazon on 1/28). So if they were houses, and I was pre-qualified for an $83 billion mortgage, I could take my pick (well, my wife would, let’s stay grounded here).
As far as revenues go, estimates for Facebook for 2010 are around $2 billion while Amazon is on track for something north of $30 billion. In housing terms, Facebook is listing a very funky two bedroom loft conversion while Amazon is listing a 30-bedroom ancestral estate. So, there are either some really, really nice upgrades in that loft or there are 28 secret bedrooms priced into the deal.
Yes, an $80 billion estimate for Facebook is likely high. And yes, Facebook and Amazon don’t have identical business models. But yes, the same people who sold me Pets.com shares are the same people who collateralized my mortgage and are the same people selling Facebook shares to foreign investors to avoid SEC regulations.
That must be one amazing loft. I need to go check it out, I do need more wall space.
Since moving back to Philadelphia, I’ve only eaten one cheese steak. Hard to believe. But the day is young and Geno’s is always open. I’ve been more focused on working to get my company’s social media strategy up and running. And, yes, Hillary it does take a village. Thankfully my village at GSI is full of talented people willing to take my lead on it — especially our own Web dev guy we like to call Kevin. Holla.
Ironically, guess what social platform is most used by our clients and employees? Nope. It’s not Facebook. Not Twitter. @GSICommerce we are big time LinkedIn.
Soon we’ll be able to thread our blog through our company pages and other channels.
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